John Francis O’Roake, the son of James Patrick and Anna Belle (Mahoney) O’Roake, was born May 22, 1919, on a farm south of Newton, Palo Alto Township. He graduated from the Newton Senior High School and went on to attend Dowling Junior College. Francis served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1941-1945.
On July 7, 1949, Francis was united in marriage with Catherine Elaine Morgan in Albia. Francis had worked for the Maytag Company before enlisting in the Navy. Following the war he started his career as a State Farm Agent, retiring in 1990. Francis had a heart for others. He was a member of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the Newton Morning Kiwanis, the American Cancer Society, the Elks Lodge No. 1270, the Izaak Walton League, T & M Bowling League and Westwood Golf Course. Francis enjoyed watching the Chicago Cubs and Newton Cardinal Football. He enjoyed golfing, fishing and family. He loved his grandkids and great-grandkids and was affectionately known as “Tickling Papa.”
Francis died Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, at Skiff Medical Center in Newton. He was 98 years old. Francis was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Catherine on Sept. 6, 2004; his brother, Don O’Roake; and a good friend, Charles O’Roake.
Those left to honor Francis’ memory include his sons, John (Cheryl) O’Roake of Newton and Kevin O’Roake of Newton; his daughters, Jane (Tom) Altenhofen of Ankeny and Suzanne O’Roake of Newton; his grandchildren, Angie (Jason) Joynes, Brooks O’Roake, Jenny (Todd) Karsten, Ryan (Casey) O’Roake, Josh O’Roake, Matthew Sash, Eric Sash, Macy (Blake) Wernimont and Molly (Zac) Keninger; and his 11 great-grandchildren.
A funeral mass will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 7 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Newton. The family will greet friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Pence-Reese Funeral Home. A public prayer service will begin at 7 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be designated to the Elks Lodge No. 1270, the Sacred Heart Cemetery or the Newton Public Library and may be left at the church or at the funeral home.